Scrap metal collecting is a popular money-making method in the United States, both as a 'side hustle' for extra cash, or as a sole form of income. However, the practice has never been as widespread in Australia. Still, the nation is home to dozens of scrap metal recyclers, most of whom, according to the Australian Metal Recycling Industry Association, are willing to pay cash to the general public for collected scrap. Read on for tips on how to get your hands on some of this money for yourself.
Know your metals
A good scrap metal collector will be familiar with the types of metals commonly found in household goods, and their approximate values. The main distinction between types of scrap is whether the metal is ferrous or non-ferrous. Ferrous metals are those that contain iron, or an iron alloy, such as steel, while non-ferrous metals, such as copper and brass, have no iron content. Ferrous metals have little value to scrap yards, so you are unlikely to be paid much for depositing them. The best way to test whether a piece of scrap is ferrous is to use a magnet - if the magnet sticks, the metal is ferrous.
Finding scrap metal
By virtue of being 'scrap', or unwanted, scrap metal is easy to find. One popular option for experienced scrap metal collectors is to scavenge through council kerbside hard waste collections. Unwanted computer monitors, for example, will typically still have their cords attached. Computer cords are an excellent source of copper, which can fetch up to $6.00 a kilogram at scrap metal recyclers. Be warned, though, that in some council areas, scavenging from hard waste piles is not permitted. Check with your local council to find out if restrictions apply in your area.
Another option is to search your local classifieds, or online classifieds such as Craigslist or Gumtree, for homeowners looking for someone to take their old appliances off their hands. Many householders would be more than happy to allow a scrap metal collector to take an unwanted air conditioning unit or old kitchen appliance off their hands, and these can usually be taken apart for valuable scrap.
Sort your scrap
It makes sense to sort your metals into separate containers before taking them to be recycled. Scrap yards will generally pay for scrap metal by weight, and if you present them with a container full of different types of metals, then you will only get paid based on per-kilogram price for the metal of the lowest value.
Try to remove any additional attachments from your scrap before taking it to the recycler. For example, if you have a copper cable with a brass attachment, remove the brass attachment and sell it separately.
Scrap metal collecting can be an excellent way of making some extra cash on the side, and, as described previously, many even use collecting as their sole form of income. On a good day, an experienced scrapper can make over $200 from what they find, so if you have some extra time on your hands, consider going for a drive and looking for scrap. You never know what you might find.